Create. Strengthen. Facilitate. Develop. These words only begin to capture what Community School Coordinators do to create a bridge between the schools and communities that they support. As Randi Norris, Executive Director of The Intersection and Stevenson University Online Adjunct Professor explains, “Often their role focuses on building partnerships, leveraging services and engaging with the broader community to support overall wellbeing and positive outcomes for students and families.”
Randi, who provided technical assistance to Community School Coordinators while in a prior role with Family League, is now proud to empower high school youth through The Intersection. This Baltimore-based non-profit acts as a facilitator to help youth access leadership skills to work within their communities. Randi says, “We do not look at our role as benefiting any community but working alongside communities to make systematic change.”
As Executive Director of a small non-profit, Randi is frequently pulled in many different directions, from fundraising and financial management to board support. However, she is reminded of the value of her work whenever she connects with The Intersection’s Student Leaders. She states, “The ability to see youth step into the roles they were meant to play as leaders in their school and community is amazing. This is especially powerful when it is a young person that came into our program shy or less confident and watching the transformation is amazing.” She remarks that she is inspired by the youth leaders that she is privileged to work with.
With the work that Randi does with Community Schools, she understands the value of Community School Coordinators. She is also aware of some of the barriers that comes with that role. She advises Community School Coordinators that are struggling to focus on developing their relationship within their school. She says, “Getting to know the team that you are working with and always assuming best intentions goes a long way. Additionally, finding a mentor or someone who has been through this and has come out on the other side can be tremendously helpful.”
Additionally, as a faculty member for SUO’s Community-Based Education and Leadership (CBEL) program, Randi offers her experience and knowledge to individuals in community-based work, like Out of School Time Professionals and Coordinators. Of the program, Randi states, “If you are someone who is interested in continuing in the people serving professions, this program would provide excellent preparation and applicable experiences for advancing in that field.”
This week is Community School Coordinators Appreciation Week (Sept. 25 – 29). Hosted by the Coalition of Community Schools, Communities In Schools, the National Center for Community Schools at the Children’s Aid Society, the Beacon National Network, and the Netter Center for Community Partnerships at the University of Pennsylvania, this week encourages individuals, schools, and local community school initiatives to honor and thank their Community School Coordinators.
Stevenson University Online is proud to offer a Master's in Community-Based Education and Leadership, a program that supports Community School Coordinators and other individuals seeking to teach, lead, and manage in non-formal and informal education settings.